Kellie Morris

The Glowing Bicyclist by Kellie Morris

The gym uniforms we wore in Middle and High school just reinforced the old saying: men sweat and women glow. When you are wearing a starched, white, 100% cotton, cap-sleeve blouse closed my snaps, you’re going to do everything you can to NOT sweat in PE class. I’ve dated myself! There were two reasons for that aversion to sweat;

1)  You had to wash, starch and iron that blouse into submission so it was stiff enough to stand on its own.  I remember the crunching sound my blouse made whenever I moved.  Crunching was a good thing: you had penetrated that cotton with the recommended amount of starch.  

2) If we sweated we would have to disrobe in front of all the other girls and take a shower! Yuk!

Fast forward a few decades and I have gotten over my aversion to sweating (and showering) when it’s appropriate for me to sweat. I usually pace my bike rides to match the type of riding I’m doing:

  • Workout = major sweat
  • Running errands = minor sweat
  • Communing = glowing 

I have discovered the perfect way to glow over longer distances: riding an electric bicycle (also known as an ebike)!  My husband and I have rented Pedego  ebikes from the Greater Long Beach Pedego dealer twice in the last 6 months (we used an Amazon Local deal).  Beth and Brian own the shop and took the time to explain how to operate the ebike safely.

We were hooked the minute we took off from the parking lot. For our first rental we rode bikes with a throttle near the right handgrip. When we needed some speed we rotated the throttle toward us. If we didn’t need assistance, we just pedaled the bike, shifting as needed.   We also tried the pedal assist, known as pedelec ebike. That was so much fun! You set the percentage of help you want and the bike gives you assistance as long as you are pedaling. Talk about Pedal Love.

I decided to check out an ebike shop that carries several brands of ebikes.  My research pointed to Electric Bikes Los Angeles  located in El Segundo.   It was hard to interview Craig Savage, the Sales and Service manager because I was rubber necking all the beautiful ebikes and folding bikes in stock.  I also was able to talk to a few ebike owners who were all very enthusiastic about their purchase. My hands were itching to try a few models. I settled on the two biggest  pedelec sellers:  Stromer and Easy-Motion (e-motion). 

So why would someone buy an ebike, especially since you will pay $2000-$4000 for a quality bike? I already own three bikes so I have to come up with solid excuses to talk my hubby into buying another bike!   So here’s my logical list (no emotion involved!) of “Why buy an ebike?”:

  • It opens up more opportunities to ride your bike for running errands, commuting and getting around town.
  • It’s a great way for someone improving their health by getting into a sport. The healthier they become the less they may use the pedal assist.
  • It will allow a slower bicyclist to keep up with faster bicyclists (note: it’s a way to get others to join you on a ride
  • It can assist in disease management – I cycle regularly to help manage the level of my chronic pain; The more I exercise the less medication I need to take.
  • Riding a bike might take too much effort if you live in hilly or windy area.
  • It will blow away all the excuses you have for NOT riding.
  • It will take less time commuting than riding a regular bike and it might take less time than driving, depending on the traffic and commuting distance.

There are some downsides to owning an ebike

  • They are heavier than a regular bike
  • You do need to charge the battery
  • It costs more than an non-electric bike

Now let’s get radical: It could replace a second car for local trips.  If you replaced a car, you would:

  • No longer buy gas
  • No longer need insurance (but probably want to purchase bike insurance)
  • No longer pay the DMV for vehicle registration
  • Be legal to ride on bike paths and streets
  • Pay less for maintenance than you would for a car
  • Always have a free parking space near the front door of your destination
  • Never get a parking ticket!

Has this overview got you curious to learn more about ebikes? Try electricbike.com for lots of information and articles about ebikes.  There is also a very informative presentation, ebikes in the United States, put together by John MacArthur, Portland State University.   To me the most surprising stats gathered from the ebike owner survey addressed ebike use:

  • 94% indicated they had rode a standard bike as an adult
  • 55% rode their standard bike weekly or daily prior to e-bike purchase --this went up to 93% after purchase
  • Of the 6% that hadn’t rode a bike as an adult, of those 89% ride their e-bike daily or weekly
  • Over 90% use their e-bikes weekly or daily

Part two of the Glowing Bicyclist will look into converting your current bike to an ebike along with other ways to glow while you go on your bike!  Have comments? Ideas? Suggestions? Please leave a comment! I'd love to hear from you!

About Kellie

KellieMorrisweb_MG_0176.jpg

Kellie did her first multiday, fund-raising bike ride in 2002 after a co-worker dared her to take up the challenge - the seven-day ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In 2010 Kellie was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease: Mixed Connective Tissue disease that left her so weak she could barely dress herself. Through medication, dietary changes and exercise she was able to recover much of her strength.  Kellie does most of her local trips on her trike including shopping, running errands, attending fitness classes, visiting friends and even riding to church. In May 2013 Kellie became a certified bicycling instructor via The League of American Bicyclists. She now teaches throughout Long Beach and Los Angeles. Image by Lisa Beth Anderson.

 

 

 

 

Violated!

My husband is a super mellow guy.  He has a Teflon coating that allows most stuff to roll off him but to the people he loves that coating is easy to penetrate.  He has been very antsy lately and even a little short and abrupt.  It took me a while to figure out what was eating at him. 

Two weeks ago he rode his bike to the bank. Unfortunately, I had his U-lock and I was carrying the key to my own lock, which I had left at home.  He had no way to lock his bike but decided to park his bike outside the bank and keep an eye on it.    When he blinked that one eye, his bike was taken.  It was not an expensive bike: he found it on Craig’s List and paid $60.  It was a heavy, bright red mountain bike that didn’t always shift well (one of the cogs was bent) but he used it all the time to run errands.  Our money is tight so we aren’t able to replace his bike until next month but, based on his behavior, I might have to squeeze some money out of the budget now.

I decided to interview my husband Dave, to find out how it feels to have your bike stolen:

KM So how did you feel when you exited the bank and saw that your bike was missing?

DM I felt abused and violated.  I also kicked myself because I could have been more assertive and brought the bike into the bank.  I was mad at myself.  Those were the things I thought about on the long walk home.

KM So now it’s been a few weeks without your bike, how are you feeling now?

DM I feel antsy and agitated. I work from home and some weeks when I am on-call, I don’t leave the house for several days.  My bike gives me an opportunity to get out and see the sun.  I’ve lost a lot of personal mobility.  Riding my bike is not the same as driving somewhere.  Riding my bike is a way to unwind from the stress of work.

KM: So if you had the thief here who took your bike, what would you say to them?

DM: Stop stealing bikes, please. I forgive you.  And care about the bike more than I did. After all, I left the bike unlocked.

I shared with or younger daughter, Erica that I was writing about and she reminded me she had also had a bike stolen.  I decided to also interview her.

KM: Share with me the circumstances when your bike was stolen:

EM I was living in downtown Long Beach condo with secure underground parking and within that secure underground parking was a bike cage where residents were told to keep their bikes.  There were two camera pointed at the bike cages.  You could only access the bike cage with the key to grounds that was issued to the residents.  But what was later discovered from the footage from the security cameras two bike thieves helped each over a one foot gap between the top of the bike cage and the ceiling.

KM: A one foot gap?

EM: Yes. Twelve inches.  One thief would boost the other to the top of the cage then open the door from inside the cage.

KM: But how did they get into the parking structure?

EM: They waited until someone opened the parking structure door.   In our building there was a known problem that when you opened one parking access door the other one would also open.

KM: So they were very determined

EM: Yes. They were very determined.  They took the time to figure out how things worked there.

KM: So how many bikes did they take?

EM: As far as we know, they took six bikes.  There were probably 50 bikes in the cage.   They were two guys that had stolen bikes from other apartment buildings downtown.

KM: Do you know what types of bikes were picked by the thieves?

EM: They took bikes that were hybrid and road bikes and left the cruisers.  There were plenty of cruisers down there but none of them were stolen.

KM: How did you feel when your bike was stolen?

EM: I was more surprised than angry because with all that security, you think your belongings are safe in your own home.   I thought wow! They went through a lot to get those bikes. They didn’t care about being caught. They didn’t care about their faces being captured on the security camera.   They were eventually caught.   The building had to hire extra on-site security and they did eventually seal the gap in the cage.

 KM: But I understand that you still don’t store your bike there.

EM: No. Even after they replaced my bike I said I don’t trust them. I’m putting my bike in my house because that is the only place that I can guarantee that my bike won’t be stolen. Unless they break into my house.   I keep it in my living room where I can see it every day and that is comforting.

KM: This isn’t the first time something like this has happened to you.

EM: There was a time when I would ride my bike to school: Long Beach City College. I would park it right outside the building where I would have my evening class 4:00 to 9:00 pm.   One night I came out of class and I saw that they weren’t able to cut my bike lock so they took my bento box, bike seat along with my rear and front lights. So I had to ride back to work, to pick up my car with no seat. Riding high!

KM: How far did you have to ride without a seat?

EM: It was only two miles but I had to remind myself to not sit down.  I was not aware that things like that happened.   But you better believe that whenever I ride somewhere I remove anything that can be removed before I lock my bike.

KM: How did you feel when you came out of class and found your seat and lights missing?

EM: I was angry and I felt violated. It was like someone had broken into my car and taken everything I cared about and needed but left my tires. It was frustrating. All I was doing was trying to be healthy by riding my bike to school from work and not have to worry about finding a parking spot then someone had to ruin my day.

KM: So if you had the thief here who took your seat and lights, what would you say to them?

EM: You owe me a seat and lights! I don’t know what I would say. Why? Why that? What made you do that? Thanks for not taking my whole bike.  But what was the purpose of taking my seat and lights?

Both my husband and my daughter had a similar reaction when their bikes or bicycling parts were stolen: violation.   I am grateful to have never been violated in this way.  They both had an emotional attachment to their bikes: so do I. They used their bikes for transportation, to save money and to improve their health: so do I.  I’m not sure how I would feel if my recumbent trike was stolen but I think I will learn from their experiences.

This is why we teach you to always lock your bike securely in our Street Savvy classes.